To me, the majority of office floor space looks and feels the same, well it certainly does in the UK (take a look at any interior design magazine if you don’t believe me). There are a few exceptions but most offices are fully open plan with rows of homogenous desks built around a core of so-called collaboration space and other supporting areas.
The more adventurous organisations may have quirkier
breakout spaces, themed meetings rooms and a funkier colour palette, but the
layout of the space, with the ubiquitous bench-desking, repeatedly follows a
familiar pattern. The even more adventurous organisations may be experimenting
with new ways of working, reinvented as flexible or agile or activity based
working, but nevertheless a concept that has been around for at least 25 years.
The design and use of space is fundamentally driven by
cost. The office is considered (by many) a cost burden, an overhead, rather
than a means of improving business performance, an investment with potentially
lucrative returns. So currently office design is all about space, it is about
efficiency, high density, and reducing property costs.
Le Corbusier famously claimed “the home is a machine for
living in”, so logically it follows that the “office is a machine for working
in”. The primary objective of the office is, and has always been, to facilitate
the business of the occupying organisation. And the key asset of any organisation
is its people.